The governing body is set to vote on a bill that will require residential property owners – including banks and mortgage institutions – to register and maintain vacant or abandoned properties in foreclosure.
A new section in the borough code will be entitled “Residential Maintenance and Registration”. It defines what a creditor is and under what conditions a residential property is deemed vacant and abandoned. In addition to the residence not being occupied, at least two (2) of the following conditions exist:
- Overgrown or neglected vegetation;
- The accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, or mail on the property;
- Disconnected gas, electric, or water utility to the property;
- The accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;
- The accumulation of junk, litter, trash, or debris on the property;
- The absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains or shutters;
- The absence of furnishings and personal belongings;
- Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken, and unrepaired;
- Doors to the property that are smashed through, broken-off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked;
- A risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, or any adjoining or adjacent property owners, exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;
- An uncorrected violation of a municipal building, housing, or similar code during the preceding year, or an order by municipal authorities declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied;
- The mortgagee or other authorized party has secured or winterized the property due to the property being deemed vacant and unprotected or in danger of freezing;
- A written statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property;
- Any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.
A residential property is not considered vacant and abandoned if the unoccupied building is undergoing active construction, renovation or rehabilitation and is in compliance with all ordinances, codes, regulations, and statutes or if the property is on a seasonal basis but otherwise secure. Additionally, if a residential property is the subject of a probate action or other ownership dispute it is not considered vacant or abandoned.
Property owners will have thirty (30) days to correct any violations from receipt of a violation notice or within ten (10) days if it is deemed that the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety. The fine is $1,500 a day for any property owner found guilty of failing to correct or keep up with the maintenance of a vacant or abandoned house.
Out-of-state owners will also be required to have an in-state representative and may be fined $2,500 for failure to comply.
Registration fees are on an annual basis and to be renewed January 1st of every year after the initial registration which will be prorated until the end of the year. The fees are as follow:
- $500 for the first year
- $1,500 for the second year
- $3,000 for the third year
- $5,000 for every year thereafter
The June 15th Mayor & Council meeting is scheduled to hold a public hearing and council vote on the ordinance.
A copy is available below:
Download RP Ordinance 2499